Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Tomorrow's Catholic Church -- Fr Anthony Scerri



Rudolf Anthony Scerri, Carmelite



(The following is an excerpt from a larger document in which Fr Anthony Scerri reminisces on his 90 years on this earth, most of them as a Catholic priest. He is currently attached to the Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Wentworthville, NSW. I have always thought that his homilies were always thought provoking, more the work of a wannabe theologian but nonetheless deep and meaningful. In any case, listening to him, I hope he has woken up dormant Catholic minds. In this piece, he clinically examines the past and the future of the Catholic Church)



Pope Francis has ushered in the third Church.

The First Church

The first Church was the Apostolic Church, the Church of the Apostles and of their immediate successors. It was a Church conscious of being the baptised, the chosen ones who had to live the Good News of the risen Christ in their daily lives, and conscious of being the ones sent by Jesus to spread the Good News of the crucified and risen Christ to all nations. These were the people of God who kept recalling all that Jesus said and did. and tried to understand and interpret what was happening in their individual lives, in their Christian communities, and in society in the light of what Jesus had said and done. Not much speculative theology. Just the Scriptures and Jesus.

It was the Church of the poor and a persecuted Church, people who lived in fear of powerful rulers, who wanted to eliminate them. They hid in catacombs, but willingly and even joyfully went to their martyrdom. They were a people persecuted by the powerful Roman Empire, which ruled most of the known world then.

The first Church was the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church of the Acts of the Apostles and of the letters of the Apostles. It was the Church of the resurrection, of people who had experienced the presence of the risen Jesus in the breaking of bread, and who could not but proclaim the risen Jesus to one and all.

The first Church was close to Jesus and to the Apostolic heritage.

The Second Church

At the beginning of the fourth century, Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. This was a cataclysmic event in the life of the Church. From being a persecuted Church and a Church of the poor, it became the favoured Church and the privileged Church.

Constantine gave back to Christians all properties (mostly churches), which had been confiscated by the State, He looked on the Christians favourably and promoted Christians to high positions of authority. He exempted the clergy from paying taxes and gave them other privileges. He made Sunday a day of rest, not just for Christians, but for everyone in the whole Empire. He called the Council of Nicaea to suppress the heresies of Donatism and Arianism in his empire. He built basilicas, including the first St. Peter’s in Rome, and the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The Church was no longer the Church of the poor, or of the persecuted Church, or the Church of martyrs, but a privileged Church, which shared in the power, wealth, control, and glory of the emperor. The Church began, and continued for centuries, to imitate the system of the Roman Empire. The Church began to centralise power in the hands of the Roman Pontiff. From now on, all decisions concerning faith and liturgical practice were to be made by the Roman curia. Everyone had to follow the laws and the liturgy of Rome. The pope took on the title of Pontifex Maximus, which was the title used by Roman emperors to remind people that they were divine. The bishops and cardinals took on secular titles such as your eminence, your excellency, your grace, and my lord. They began to wear mitres, and hold gold and silver croziers, and to wear all sorts of royal purple paraphernalia, and to live in marble palaces, and to have people, usually lowly religious sisters, to attend to their every need. Those who were supposed to be pastors, living and mingling with the poor, the sick, the needy, as Jesus did, became royalty far from the crowds, far from the people of God. In fact, in the Middle Ages, Cardinals and bishops ruled dukedoms and lived like dukes and lords. In some, even many, cases they still live-in palaces and are served by a bevy of attendants. As Jesus would put it, they love to wear phylacteries and to be saluted and honoured by people in public.

As General Councillor of the Order for twelve years, I had occasion to visit many bishops and papal representatives in many countries. With a couple of exceptions, one in Liberia and one in Kerala, they all lived in palaces. Their excuse was that they had inherited these palaces from the past and were seemingly unaware of the image that this presented to both the faithful and non-Catholics alike.

The second Church imposed uniformity throughout the spreading world in the name of unity. The Church became a control freak! It was more interested in preserving its power and control by making laws after laws after laws that bound people under pain of mortal sin, than in following the teachings and deeds of Jesus. Scripture took second place to the philosophy of Aristotle and the theology of Thomas Aquinas, great and good as these two historical figures are. The Church became a replica of the secular Roman Empire with a coating of religiosity.

Let me add quickly that the Church also has done and does much good in the fields of education, health and many and varied charitable works. However, these good works have all originated from the zealous and concerned religious and lay people within the Church, not from the Roman Curia, which has only been concerned with regulating and controlling these movements of good works by requiring their approval after exercising censorship over the statutes of these organisations or Congregations, to make sure that the statutes are in accordance with the laws of Rome.

Catholics have lived with this centralised, controlling, repressive, at times oppressive body called the Roman curia, often erroneously referred to as the Church, for seventeen centuries to this present day. Somehow, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, Jesus has continued to be in his Church, especially in the breaking of bread, and somehow, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, the people of God have remained faithful to the Word of God and to the Good News of the risen Christ.


The Third Church

Then, God sent a man whose name is Francis

I am not a prophet nor am I a clairvoyant. I cannot see into the future of the Church, but I can read the present signs of the birth of the third Church. When Jorge Bergoglio was elected Pope, he took the name of Francis, the poor, the humble, the unpretentious Francis.   When he came out to greet the people from the balcony of St. Peter’s, He refused to wear the cappa magna, the long red cape worn by dignitaries to signify their rank. He just wore a simple white soutane. He greeted the people in the way everyone greets people with “Buon giorno,” which translated into Australian would be “G’day!”  When he was shown to his papal apartments, he exclaimed that 300 persons could live in them, and decided to move to the Vatican guesthouse, Santa Marta, where he occupies a bedroom and a sitting room where he can receive guests.

When Francis gives a speech or a homily, he does not quote Vatican documents or prominent theologians. He speaks of Jesus, what Jesus said, what Jesus did, and how this applies to us today. Francis is obviously an intimate friend of Jesus, and is leading the Church, the people of God, to be intimate friends of Jesus too. He is deeply concerned for the health of our planet and sees humans’ abuse of nature as a sin, but he also sees God’s hand in whatever happens on earth and to the earth. Francis is trying to bring the Church back to its roots, that is, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to avoid the theories of theologians. Not that he despises theologians, but that he recognises that theology is a science that deals with theories about the nature of God and other theological matters. Theologians only put forward theories. That is the nature of every science as it progresses in knowledge. However, that is not what the Church is about. The Church is about Jesus, the Good News.

Recently, the bishops of the Amazonian region held a synod together with the Pope concerning the ordination of married deacons being allowed to be ordained to the priesthood. At the end of the synod, I think that everyone was anxiously expecting that Francis would say yes or no. Including myself. Francis, however, wrote to the bishops saying to them, in effect, that it was not for him to make the decision of whether these married deacons could be ordained priests or not, but that it was their responsibility to come to a decision together. Decentralisation! Collegiality!

The third Church is going to be quite different from what we have known and suffered for seventeen centuries. It will be a more decentralised Church; it will be an enculturated Church, where I shall no longer have to be a Roman Catholic, but an Australian Catholic. I am not and have never been a Roman Catholic; I was a Maltese Catholic in my youth and am now an Australian Catholic! The only Roman Catholics are the Catholics living in Rome. I am Australian, and, therefore, must live and express my faith in my Australian way. I am Catholic because I am united in a bond of love with all my brothers and sisters who believe in Jesus in the world.

The third Church will gradually shed the paraphernalia inherited from the Roman Empire and from the Middle Ages: the mitres, the croziers, the Roman liturgical and hierarchical vestments. The third Church will revise the Sacraments so that they reflect the love and mercy and deep understanding of human nature of Jesus. The third Church will modernise the language and music of the liturgy. It will take time, perhaps a century or even longer, because so many people in the Church, both clerical and lay, who are attached to the old ways and consider any change as being heretical. These people feel comfortable and safe in a Roman-medieval Church and they We departed from Sydney have put up the sign, “please do not disturb”! It will take time but come it will. Francis has set the wheels in motion. Our faith is in Jesus. I believe in Jesus not in the many documents that come out of the Vatican, not in the Catholic catechism, not in Canon Law, but in Jesus as revealed in the Gospels. It will be a Church of pastors who go down to the plain with their sheep and lead them to the green pastures of the Gospels.  I believe that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the Church into a bright future. God bless Pope Francis and give him long life.

The Golden Years

Now I am in my so-called golden age (or, according to Shakespeare, in my second childhood!) I am quite content with my life now. God has blessed me with a busy, varied, interesting, and, I hope, in some small way, fruitful life. I am grateful God from the depths of my heart. In my present quiet and reflective life, I have come to truly feel and enjoy the presence and friendship of Jesus in my every moment. I talk to him frequently during the day. At other times I am content just to be with him in loving silence. The Scriptures have taken on a new meaning for me because I have realised that they are talking about my beloved Friend. When I read the Gospels to myself, I sometimes replace the third person pronouns with second person pronouns. Why would I be reading about Jesus when he is present with me and in me in the present moment? When I read the Gospels, I do not read, “Jesus said to his disciples…”, but “Jesus, I hear you saying to me now…”. Just one of those quirks, which I like because it brings me closer to my beloved Jesus!

All that remains for me is to enjoy the presence of God in my life and to praise and glorify him every day and every moment. Thank God, I am still in good health for as long as it pleases Him to bestow it on me so as to go on serving His people as much as I able to, and above all for me to grow in love of Jesus and to make him loved by others. I really only want what God wants of me.

I am lucky to still have one sister, Julia, who is a holy and a beautiful, warm, welcoming person. She is seven years older than me, so, she too, is further on in her golden years! We visit each other every afternoon on our iPad, and meet whenever there is a family gathering. Julia and I have wonderful nephews and nieces whom we love dearly and who love us back, and who are always willing to help us. They would never think of celebrating an anniversary or any other occasion without inviting Julia and me, and coming to pick us up and bring us back home. I have tried to keep up with all my grand nephews and grand nieces, but I gave up with the great-grand nephews and great-grand nieces, and now, I believe, there are great-great-grand nephews and great-great-grand nieces. There is something in the Bible about being blessed to the third and fourth generation. Well, I have been blessed in this way.

I try to keep my intellectual interests going, but it is not easy since I am gradually losing my sight due to macular degeneration. I am also becoming hard of hearing. Losing my sight has been a bit of a handicap because I can no longer read books. But I cannot complain. God has been good in lending me my eyes and ears for such a long time. Modern technology has also come to my aid, for my eyes in the form of a computer and an iPad which enable me to read the Mass in bold and large characters and to be able to read and write documents; and, for my ears, in the form of hearing aids.  

I keep recalling the words of Pope John Paul II to us Carmelites at an audience with him: As we were about to leave the audience hall, he said to us: “Teach us to pray”. By ‘us’ he meant, of course, the people of God. I feel humbled that as a Carmelite I am asked to be a man of prayer, a man who must teach others to pray. We must always pray, as Jesus commanded us, but we must always grow in our prayer and not stop at the Third Mansion of St. Teresa of Avila.

I am now living the last chapter of my life. I have no idea how many or how few years are left for me to live on this earth This is, of course, as God sees fit. If he wishes me to stay a little longer, then I am happy to wait. If he wishes for me to join him soon, then I shall be most blessed because, whenever the time comes, I believe that my beloved Mother of Carmel, whom I have loved and tried to serve these brief years of my life, will come to take me by the hand with her into the bosom of the most Blessed Trinity.


Glory be to the Father,

and to the Son,

and to the Holy Spirit.




Friday, November 26, 2021

Anna Chapman, the Russian spy who lived in Kenya (new) and went to Loreto Msongari


Anna Chapman in Times Square

Anna Chapman, the Russian spy 

who went to school in Kenya 

A pretty in depth investigation into the life and times of the Russian “spy” who lived in Kenya and went to school there.




01/04/2012 09:11 AM EST

It has been nearly a year and a half since the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized Anna Chapman, the Russian spy who had been working undercover in Manhattan real estate. Her arrest along with nine other Russians broke up the largest foreign intelligence network discovered on American soil since the Cold War.

The Illegals, as they were called inside the Department of Justice, had infiltrated American society, nearly all of them going by Anglicized names, passing themselves off as white-collar professionals.

But, long afterward, it's difficult to see what the spies ever learned or did of any real importance while stationed stateside on Vladimir Putin’s orders. Equally difficult to uncover is just how these agents could have fooled anyone, pretending to be American-born while speaking such heavily accented English.

The Illegals incident proved so inconsequential that Washington and the Kremlin arranged a brush-pass of prisoners along a stretch of Viennese airport tarmac and quickly retreated to their neutral corners, never to mention this inconvenience again.

But in the press the episode lived on largely due to the appeal of 29-year-old Chapman, this scandal, like many others, making a pseudo-somebody out of a total nobody. Chapman’s fake red hair and very real body lit up on the web. Her ex-husband, a feeble Englishman who allowed himself to be hoodwinked into marrying the former Anna Kushchenko so that she could get a U.K. passport, sold off a selection of marriage-bed photos, his revenge only making her more famous. The pictures were not great, but they were plenty revealing. Here was a real live Russian honeypot, squirming in the surprise camera flash.

Chapman has been back in Russia since the prisoner exchange, and hardly incognito. She's a national celebrity, one I've managed to meet with several times, watching her navigate her new life as a big Russian name.

In one of those meetings, on an evening in December 2010, I joined Chapman at the Soho Rooms, a Moscow nightclub that is terribly difficult to enter, the doormen protecting the many beautiful women inside from the men who cannot afford them. Chapman handed me a white T-shirt silk-screened with a version of the iconic image of Che Guevara in a beret, with Chapman’s face in the place of Guevara's. The bottom of the shirt read, “Cha.” It was a gift for me. Chapman was enjoying her fame. At one point in the evening she leaned in close against the blaring music and asked me if I knew who I was. I nodded and said that I did.

“I’m still trying to figure it out,” she said, flashing her green eyes.

RUSSIA HAS A NUMBER OF NATIONAL EXPORTS. THERE is oil and there is gas and there are hockey players. Then there are women, without lapse looking their best, engaging in accelerated courtship with the rest of the world. No Russian woman was ever coy. The innocent culture of the West has no defense against the cultural weapon of forthright sexuality. I wasn’t falling for it, though I could see how others might.

I met one of Chapman’s Manhattan boyfriends at the Subway Inn on East 60th Street last January. He was an ex-Marine with some existing level of security clearance, and he was still feeling duped by Chapman, uneasy about what he might have let slip in order to get something from her.

Bill Staniford was instantly recognizable by the red Marines hat he wore. The music coming out of the jukebox was loud. Red and green lights put the room at a Christmas ease. A long touchdown run stretched across the TV.

Staniford and I took seats across from one another in a red vinyl booth.

“I met Anna the second day after she arrived,” he said. “And I hung out with her until she was busted.”

A Marine buddy of Staniford’s had just died in combat in Afghanistan, and he was taking it hard.

“Death is the worst bite,” he said, taking a slug from his Jack and Coke.

Sitting next to Staniford was an attractive young woman of Surinamian descent, Diena Ganesh, whom Staniford said off-handedly was “handling my P.R.”

I later learned that she was an undergraduate student. Ganesh glanced nervously around the bar. “Interesting crowd,” she said.

Staniford said, “It’s a place where people go when they don’t want to be heard.” He looked over his shoulder, then leaned in close to explain his association with Anna Chapman.

Staniford was the C.E.O. of a firm called PropertyShark when Chapman walked into his office in January of 2010. In New York, she fronted an online real-estate listings aggregator, PropertyFinder. She and Staniford ultimately did no business together, their relations instead becoming intimate. He took her to Las Vegas. They spent time at his rambling apartment on the Upper East Side, and at her place downtown, where she had hung pictures of Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra on the walls. They went to nightclubs and restaurants in Manhattan, playing the relationship carefree.

The F.B.I. monitored it all. The Bureau claims to have surveilled Chapman since the moment she arrived in the U.S., focusing particularly on the weekly communications that she sent to the second secretary of the Russian mission to the United Nations. According to F.B.I. documents, Chapman visited various Manhattan locations—Starbucks, Barnes & Noble—where she would establish a local wireless network between her laptop and that of the U.N. official, who was parked in a van nearby. Robert Baum, Chapman’s New York attorney, concedes these facts.

On June 26 of 2010, an undercover F.B.I. agent, posing as a Russian operative, contacted Chapman by phone, and the two arranged to meet at a coffee shop downtown. The F.B.I. agent, who called himself Roman, recorded their conversation. He handed Chapman a fake U.S. passport, telling her that she was to deliver the document to another of the Illegals.

“Excuse me, but haven't we met in California last summer?” Chapman was to say before she handed over the passport, waiting for the confirming answer, “No, I think it was the Hamptons.”

“Are you ready for this step?” Roman asked Chapman. She replied, “Shit, of course,” displaying the heedlessness that caused her to accept the passport, and perhaps even the entire American assignment itself.

Fraudulent document in hand, Chapman left the coffee shop and went to Brooklyn, where she bought a cell phone under the name Irine Kutsov. She carelessly tossed her phone contract into a trash can, from which the F.B.I. retrieved it. Chapman called her father, who now holds a position in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and he presumably advised her how to handle the curious situation in which she found herself.

The following day, Chapman entered the 1st Precinct in Lower Manhattan and handed the passport to police. F.B.I. agents soon arrived, and the Illegals arrests began. Within days, three representatives of the Russian government visited the Metropolitan Detention Center, where they instructed Chapman to accept the deal that Justice was offering.

When Bill Staniford read details of the F.B.I. dragnet, he panicked. It wasn’t only his acquaintance with Chapman that concerned him. Another of the Illegals, Lydia Guryeva, alias Cynthia Murphy, had been his accountant since 2000, the year he mustered out of the Marines. At the time of her arrest, Guryeva was cultivating a relationship with Alan Patricof, who had co-chaired Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Guryeva lived in sleepy Montclair, N.J., with her husband, Vladimir Guryev (alias Richard Murphy), also an Illegal, eliciting a neighbor’s oft-published remark: “They couldn't be spies. Look what she did with the hydrangeas.”

Staniford clutched a fresh drink, the bar’s lights coloring his glass.

“Obviously I was a target,” he said. “My best guess is that they thought I was going C.I.A.”

In the Marines, Staniford had been a linguistic cryptologist, focusing on Cuba, Colombia, Peru, and Guatemala. His cousin, Gifford Miller, to whom he says is close, was the speaker of the New York City Council and a candidate for mayor in 2010. What made Staniford valuable to the Russian foreign intelligence service? When the F.B.I. called him in for questioning, the agents who spoke with him didn’t know the level of his security clearance, and he wasn’t about to tell them. Throughout our conversation, Staniford made vague allusions and insinuations. “Anna could never have gotten anything out of me because there was nothing to get,” he said. “And you know I’m lying.”

The prevailing wisdom concerning the Illegals case holds that, for all of their efforts, for all of the years that many of them had spent in the U.S., the spies had provided Moscow with nothing of utility. The operation had been a gross waste of resources, a relic of Cold War gamesmanship. However, a counterintelligence probe at the National Security Agency, disclosed by Bill Gertz in The Washington Times, suggests otherwise. The investigation hinges on the assertion that the Russian foreign intelligence service (the S.V.R.) used the Illegals network to support one or more Russian moles who have infiltrated Fort Meade, Md., N.S.A. headquarters.

» Chapman's 'very precious moment' in a Brooklyn jail

The Illegals’ “paymaster,” Christopher Metsos (an alias, the S.V.R. agent having assumed the identity of a deceased Canadian), escaped the F.B.I. dragnet on June 27, 2010. Two days later, police in Cyprus arrested him on an Interpol warrant, as he boarded a flight to Budapest. A Cypriot court quickly granted Metsos bail, infuriating U.S. officials, who suspected Russian influence.

The Russian oil and gas giants Lukoil and Gazprom have invested deeply in Cyprus, while as much as $15 billion flows monthly from Russia to the island’s tax-haven banks. The only Communist leader in the European Union, Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias, who had received a Ph.D. in the Soviet Union in 1974, bristled at the suggestion of Russian manipulation. Shortly after making bail, Metsos disappeared from his Cyprus hotel room, leaving behind his slippers, along with a hint of Cold War fidelity.

Staniford realized that he was involved in something more substantial than pillow talk, and at the Subway Inn, he continued checking over his shoulder. He appeared to have something to say. When I pressed him, he balked, ordering another round. “They could kill me,” he said. “They could kill us both.”

It was hard to tell whether he was on the level. I tried to soften him up, offering him another entry point to the discussion. I told him that in Moscow, Chapman had said that she had been in love once during her American holiday.

At that, Staniford’s companion broke in. “She probably used him,” Ganesh said, intrigue sparking her eyes. “Then she fell in love, even though she didn’t mean to.”

Staniford shot her a withering glance.

The night wound down. I got Staniford out of the bar, and he staggered onto Lexington Avenue. Steadying himself against a rack of scaffolding, he grabbed the lapels of my jacket and pulled me close.

“If you bust me, man, I’ll kill you,” he said. “And I’m really good at killing people.”

ARRIVING IN NEW YORK IN 2010, CHAPMAN moved into a 52nd-floor apartment one block south of the New York Stock Exchange. She claimed to run an Internet real-estate firm valued at $2 million. Yet her American activities were principally confined to forging male acquaintances, posting tourist pictures to her Facebook account, and composing the valueless communiqués that she fed weekly and wirelessly to Russian officials while sitting with her laptop in bookstores and coffee shops like any time-killing New Yorker.

Once apprehended, just six months into her assignment, Chapman’s luxurious existence in New York was at an end; it had always been a sham, a cover story with just enough to back it up. The U.S. District Court reviewed her finances, deemed her unable to afford a lawyer, and appointed her a public defender. Things were bad and they were about to get weird. Chapman was wallowing in an orange jumpsuit in Solitary in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, when fame, as she told me, “dropped on my head.”

Her New York defense attorney, Baum, delivered her newspapers, including the New York Post, which ran her photo on its front page seven times during her 11-day internment in the summer of 2010. She began to understand that her life was being diverted to a new course.

“I remember this moment,” Chapman told me, “and it’s a very precious moment.”

Following her layover in Austria, Chapman returned to Russia behind a veil of mystery, and has remained unwilling to substantiate or refute the many rumors about her that started proliferating immediately upon her arrest. Did her father run guns in Africa? Was she close to Prince William? Was she a certified marksman?

Chapman calls herself an entrepreneur, and that is indeed what she has become in Russia, the achievement having escaped her in New York. She has been aided in this transformation by her proximity to power, and the transitive desire of others on the make. By the time I first encountered Chapman, she had been back in Russia for a few months, and she had spent her time wisely. When she and the other spies met with Vladimir Putin in July of 2010, shortly after their return, the former K.G.B. middle manager led them in a chorus of patriotic song. (Where does Motherland come from? From the oath that you swear to her in your youthful heart.)

One person who has done business with Chapman told me that she had spent time with the other Illegals at Putin’s Black Sea villa later, but that Chapman alone had been singled out for a ride in Putin’s personal submarine beneath the surface of Lake Baikal. The dear leader had taken a shine to Chapman.

“Anna is Putin’s girl,” the associate told me.

Contrary to conventional belief, the Russians are largely not angry about having lost the Cold War. They like their foreign cars, like traveling to the First World. They really like Louis Vuitton. They don’t experience nostalgia over washing their socks in the sink. Would you like to instigate a ceaseless discussion? Ask them about the ’90s, the period in which the United States NATO-ized the Warsaw bloc, sold Russia on cankerous political and market reforms, bombed brother Belgrade—events that most American citizens, regrettably, comprehend very little.

Once Yeltsin drank himself out of a job, it fell to Putin to avenge this proud country of dwindling millions. What to do with the Illegals, then, their flop telecast across oceans and continents, such a failure hardly suiting the image of a potent state? It turns out that there is an easy fix, as Russian security expert Andrei Soldatov explained to me. Soldatov recently published a book, The New Nobility, a superior tutorial on the unbreakable bonds between the Kremlin, Russian business, and the K.G.B.’s old guard (none of whom, it should be noted, were arrested following the fall of the Communist regime.

“Nobody here thinks the Illegals were a failure,” Soldatov told me over coffee in Moscow. “It’s a victory. Because it shows we can still compete with America. We are a great power. We can do everything we want to do.”

But to make that idea stick, Anna Chapman must be made a success story, even if only after the fact.

“We need to show the American public that Anna Chapman is a hero,” said Soldatov.

“If I want to meet anyone—the C.E.O. of the biggest company—really, I can,” she told me one evening as we walked down a Moscow street together after dinner. “I can just call them up, and they are happy to meet with me.”

So far, despite such confidence, she has shied away from big business, preferring projects that capitalize on her “personal brand.” She is developing a science-fiction cartoon series starring a red-headed girl who is not named Anna. She has released a poker app for the mobile web, talks sometimes about her ideas for an Anna-branded perfume, says she wants to find a ghostwriter to compose a book about business, all the while sifting through the hundreds of requests for friendship that she receives on her Facebook account each day.

Opportunities have also originated from the country of her incarceration. Jessica Alba, the actress, wanted to buy the rights to her story and adapt it for film. William Morris Endeavor, the L.A. talent agency, called Chapman’s attorney, Baum, continuously for several months, seeking the right to represent his client. Vivid Entertainment asked if she was interested in appearing in a pornographic film. And predictably, Playboy called from Chicago, offering several hundred thousand dollars, sources in magazine publishing tell me, to shoot a full pictorial.

But these deals and offers disintegrated when the lawyers started thumbing through Chapman’s plea bargain, which forbids her from profiting from her story. Technically the deal bars her from profiting in Russia, too, but that’s an impossible agreement to enforce; not so here in the United States.

Dismissed from the U.S. with nothing but the clothes she wore, Chapman could have used some of that entertainment-world money. But no matter. She now cruises Moscow in a new Porsche Cayenne, black.

» Chapman's three-part formula for personal success

Chapman, born in distant Volgograd and having spent little time in the Russian capital, hardly knew her way around town. Nor did her driver, a good-looking kid from the regions who was perpetually late, lost, and insubordinate, but for whom Chapman displayed a particular weakness.

Everyone in Moscow looks out for everyone else, as long as you’re on the inside. The power vertical decided that Chapman needed a little domestic heft on her C.V., and she got a job at a financial institution in October of 2010, specifically at the fiscal arm of the Russian space agency, Fund Service Bank. The bank has a questionable profile around town. It was involved in an embezzlement scandal with Russian Railways a few years ago; masked police once stormed the office.

The Porsche fits well with what is presumably Chapman’s ornamental role at the bank.

“These guys in the bank told me I can get however much money I need,” she explained to a friend. “I just tell them, and it’s there the next day.”

Yet according to the bank her compensation is well-deserved. She does nothing less than protect the planet from annihilation: “Chapman will address the theme of protecting the planet from asteroids, meteor showers and other factors that affect the civilization of the Cosmos.”

With these celestial credentials Chapman has gotten what amounts to the keys to the country. She appeared at Baikonur, the Russian Cape Canaveral, blessing a cosmonaut crew on a ride through Kazakh cloud cover. She met with President Dmitry Medvedev to discuss involvement in Skolkovo, Russia’s new answer to Silicon Valley.

And so shortly after our first conversations, I understood why it was that Chapman had become too busy to take my calls. I was happy simply to maintain contact, and every once in a while I received text messages from numbers I didn’t recognize but that were clearly sent on instruction by Chapman to steer me to certain parts of the city, where she would appear.

One afternoon, following such a directive, I took a cab to Moscow’s Kitai-gorod neighborhood. Locating the address, I walked through a post-industrial mash-up of tattoo parlors, hollowed-out Soviet factories, and exotic dancing schools, graffiti gripping the walls. On an upper floor of one building, I entered what I presumed to be an atelier, the sewing machines and supercilious expressions giving it away. I pushed aside a curtain and found Chapman trying on a red coat.

“Like the tsar!” she said, air kissing my cheek, then twirling around for the camera crew that was shooting video for her website, which collects pictures of her, news of her charity work, and other Chapmania.

A designer, Kirill Murzin, flipped through his sketchbook, displaying the militaristic coats and shirts and skirts that he planned to manufacture and sell under the Chapman brand, tentatively titled AC. The two had met playing cards, Murzin told me.

“I play poker like an artist,” he said. “But Anna is a very dangerous player. Your first mistake with her will be your last mistake.”

Murzin appeared sincere. Most others I met around Chapman seemed otherwise, drawn by curiosity and opportunity.

Chapman joined me at a drawing table in the center of the room, over which several women swished scissors. I ran my fingers over a dress that had yet to be sewn together, and asked Chapman what kind of material it was. She felt the fabric, looking suddenly crestfallen, having been cornered in her ignorance. “I don’t know,” she said.

When I left the place, Chapman was sitting in her Porsche on the street, uttering for the camera crew the words “Welcome to my line.”

Whenever I raised the topics of her espionage, her arrest, her contact with high-ranking Kremlin officials, Chapman’s face always tensed. Several times, she accused me of being an F.B.I. agent. She was no longer playful once she began to suspect me, and then eventually she was not even suspicious. She was just scared and did a poor job of hiding it, mumbling about how powerful people had advised her to keep quiet.

But what had she ever done in the United States? What did she learn that would be damaging to tell? Nobody seemed to know. Nothing had ever been leaked or even suggested with any seriousness.

After the meeting at the fashion house, Chapman canceled our next appointment and disappeared from my life, for a while.

A YEAR AGO I MET VIKTOR CHERKASHIN FOR LUNCH near Moscow State University. As the K.G.B.’s Washington station chief in the ’80s, Colonel Cherkashin had recruited both Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, the two most destructive U.S. double agents of the Cold War.

I'd first met Cherkashin some years earlier, and have always found his company worth the time. He was raised on Cold War espionage, in an era when clear battle lines gave operatives a strict sense of commitment, allegiance, what was at stake. You could talk to this man and get straight answers, unlike with so many of the current crop of spooks and spies and wannabes, bereft of purpose, unsure of what or whom they are fighting for: The country and its people, or the oligarchs and politicians whom they seem to serve more directly.

Soldatov has asserted that Chapman, like many others in Russian society, had simply used her father's connections (he had been a K.G.B. agent) to bankroll a dream-like, dilletantish life in Manhattan—and had done nothing more.

Cherkashin, on the other hand, believes that Chapman had been at the beginning of a serious, lengthy assignment. He cautioned me not to be deceived by her public demeanor.

“I like her appearance,” he said. “No one suspects her. It means she’s a real professional. She’s very clever. A sober person.”

I was surprised. The security expert figured Chapman for a sham, while the real spymaster admired her tradecraft.

Then, Cherkashin asked me to arrange an introduction to Chapman for himself. (I didn't, precaution leading the way in Russia.)

Standing on the sidewalk after lunch, I sensed that Cherkashin had, in his time-tested, friendly, conversational manner, tried to fleece me.

Last Spring I had a similar feeling when, working from Kiev, I interviewed the agents who headed the case against the Illegals in a Skype conference.

They said they were irritated by the way the media had portrayed the case, as a mere curiosity. Beyond that they said little of interest. Frequently protesting that they were not trying to get information from me about Chapman or Russian intelligence circles for themselves, they gave vague answers to my questions, and invariably ended up by asking more questions of me.

I'll never know why, but a month after that, Chapman resurfaced with a request for a meeting.

“Did I disappoint you?” she asked as she strolled into a steakhouse near her office. We took a table, and she scanned her iPad.

“I’m in the news again,” she said, pretending to be indignant about her resurfacing elsewhere—in the pages of the New York Post after her poker app went live.

She was talking fast, switching from one topic to the next. She relayed the detail of a recent experience, how she had cut the ribbon at a watch boutique opening in the city center. She mentioned a wealthy man she had met. She was finding her life thrilling, and she became visibly excited.

“I have developed my three-part formula for personal success,” she said. “Would you like to hear it?”

I said I would.

“You must be active. You must be positive. And you must bring value. It just came to me. Sometimes I just know. I woke up one day and I just knew. And these three things correspond exactly to who I am. I am active, I am positive, and I bring value.”

From here the relationship picked up again, just as friendly and cheerful as ever. A week after meeting at the steakhouse I went with Chapman to a movie premiere. Elizaveta Boyarskaya, a popular Russian actress, had invited Chapman to her new film, Ne Skazhu. The title (in English, I Won’t Tell) suited the spy, who arrived late to the theater after her driver got lost, and therefore eluded the paparazzi on Nastasinsky Lane. But when news spread she had arrived, photographers snuck into the theater as the movie began. Camera flashes popped, one after another, stunning the dark auditorium.

“Oh, my God,” Chapman said, with nowhere to hide. Several males shouted threats across the hall, and the photographers retreated.

» Chapman's speech to the youth wing of Putin's United Russia political party: 'Be happy!'

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Chapman could not have been as surprised as she pretended to be. She had just appeared on the cover of the Russian edition of Maxim. She was pictured in lingerie, gripping a Beretta pistol in a lace glove. For the inside pictorial, which ran over seven suggestive pages, Maxim had paid her $25,000, according to a former business associate of Chapman's. The accompanying Q&A, Chapman told me, she had written herself.

One question: "Which actress would play her in the inevitable movie about her life?"

“You flatter me,” was the response she gave to the question she had invented. “But if this happens, let’s shoot it, of course. This is only the beginning.”

That is what the power vertical had been afraid of, that Chapman's broad appeal would start to cheapen her, and Kremlin forces strengthened their guiding hand after the magazine feature came out.

Chapman was soon installed as a leader of Molodaya Gvardiya (Young Guard), the youth wing of Putin’s United Russia political party. Among its activities, Molodaya Gvardiya has been accused of intimidating journalists whose reporting strays from the official line. (The group was linked to the November 2010 beating of Oleg Kashin, a reporter for Kommersant, a respected Russian daily. )

Publicly connecting Chapman to the official political movement raised her profile, and helped build the narrative that government took its former spy seriously.

When he came out of his coma, Kashin was still recovering from a broken jaw, a fractured skull, a broken leg, and an amputated finger. It was right around then that Chapman, the newest member of Molodaya Gvardiya’s public council, addressed the group’s Moscow congress:

“I would like us to learn to be more positive,” Chapman told the crowd. “There would be less negativity in society if we all had a smile on our face. Be happy!”

Positivity was one of her qualities. And there was reason to smile. Despite the best efforts of her masters, Chapman had landed her own TV show.

“Secrets of the World with Anna Chapman” began airing weekly on the Russian network, REN-TV, in January of last year. The Russian answer to Elvira, Chapman explains to viewers the mysteries of vampires, black cats, and the apocalypse. (So far, no asteroids.)

As her domestic profile has grown, Chapman, national hero, contemplates national representation, a seat in the Duma from Volgograd. She has become an unavoidable topic of conversation, even in discussions that couldn’t have less to do with her.

One morning in the fall of 2010, a Tupelov jet flew westward to Poland, carrying Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his delegation. As the flight progressed, diplomatic aides and pool journalists passed around the copy of Maxim with Chapman on the cover. Some time later, a source related to me a story about the flight: A reporter took a seat with Lavrov, a close Putin ally, and the two discussed the minister’s upcoming agenda, but talk turned to the Illegals, to Chapman, and the medal that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had recently awarded her.

“Which medal was it?” the reporter asked. “For bravery? Courage?”

The minister shrugged.

“I looked through the magazine,” Lavrov said. “And I didn’t see any medal on her ass.”

CHAPMAN AND I WERE MAKING TIME AT MOSCOW'S Domodedovo airport. A few months later, a man would ignite 11 pounds of TNT near the café where we sat, killing himself and 35 others, contributing to the impression that Russia has more serious problems than asteroids.

We were on our way to Voronezh, a city of nearly a million people in Russia's southwest, not far from the border with Ukraine. Chapman was interested in buying a circus troupe temporarily based in the city.

Picking over our stale, flat food, the spy and I were living under the illusion, which comes to one in the annual lull between terrorist acts in the capital, that the man on the canteen TV had molded Russia into a paragon of stability. Putin was up there, appearing now and again while the waitress limped past.

Domodedovo brought back unsettling memories for Chapman. She had touched down there after her expulsion from the U.S. But on this day she warmed to the image of Putin, who conducted an inspection of military hardware for the television cameras. Trailed by his cortège of bureaucrats and generals, Putin sneered, never grinned, projecting his vast unaccountability.

“How’s your friend?” I asked Chapman. “A good guy?”

“A great guy!” she exclaimed. She was eating sausage. Between bites, she thought to amplify her response, the tone of her voice now appropriately patriotic. “And a great leader.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“In each and every way.”

On TV, Putin stepped into the cockpit of a fighter jet.

“How’s his singing voice?” I asked.

Chapman went sour. “I don’t wanna talk about it,” she said.

The circus troupe was called Krakatuk, or Nutcracker in English. Chapman wanted to turn the company into something like Cirque du Soleil, which would then barnstorm parts of the world from which she was now excluded.

The plane was the kind that felt like it would crash: Cramped, musty, long-used. Chapman was busy stuffing her coat into the luggage rack when a salesman-type in the row behind us tried to make friends: “You’re making me horny,” he said. Chapman laughed it off. She knew how to handle the many stares that were now coming her way.

Once we were in the air, she elbowed me in the side, gesturing to the inflight magazine in her hands. There was an ad for a striptease parlor called Casanova.

“They have some nice girls,” she said. “I like this one.”

She pointed to a squatting brunette. “She has a nice ass.”

Chapman closed the magazine and looked at me, her expression grave. “What do you like better,” she asked, “ass or tits?”

Leaving behind Moscow's excitement, we flew southward into Russia's decreasing opportunity. Voronezh is one of Russia's countless dusky regional centers, and holds little joy but for the circus.

In every Russian city, there is a circus. Here at the circus in Voronezh, acrobats were practicing in their skivvies when Chapman entered the hall with her own series of attractions and amusements. The performers shouted their encouragements to one another, and these voices echoed around the vacant oval interior, which had all the grandeur and decay of a gladiator arena. It wasn't long before they goaded Chapman into slipping her hands through the straps of a pulley system, which yanked her into the air. She dangled 30 feet above the floor, spinning around, before playfully yelling, "Put me down!"

After dinner that night, we hurried through the cold, past people hugging themselves for warmth at a bus stop, past billboard stacks, kiosks selling old medicine. It was a lonesome scene.

I asked Chapman about the fact that most Western countries would no longer allow her entry, that she was for the foreseeable future confined to the former Soviet world.

“Limitations of freedom are painful,” she sighed. “Especially for someone like me. I’m a freedom seeker.”

The lie of modern Russian life is that success is easily attained. One can be a businesswoman without profiting in business, a spy without generating valued intelligence, Putin’s friend for no good reason at all.

“If you can dream it,” Chapman had written on her Facebook page, “you can become it.”

She’s right. The dream is achieved on the inside of a hydrocarbon society bankrupt on nostalgia and a single-party political system, where honest work is for the suckers. I have been on that side of things, and it is a fun party. After a time, it fatigues the soul.

The phone rang the next morning, waking me in my suite. Chapman and I had plans to visit the circus again that afternoon. Afterward, we would catch a flight back to Moscow.

It was Chapman on the phone. Her voice was cozy and suggestive, as though she were warming the sheets, playing me for intelligence. Given more time, I thought, she might have become a useful spy after all.

I rolled over onto my side. I cupped my ear to the secret she was sharing.

“Good morning, honey bunny,” she said. “I had a terrible dream.”


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Architect of the Holy Family Cathedral


Eugeny Dorothy Hughes 



Dorothy Hughes was a Kenyan architect, politician, social reformer and disability activist, the founder of the Kenyan Council of Social Services and head of the Sports Association for the Disabled. The first East African female architect, she's known for her design of the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.


Ethnicity: She was born in London, UK, but spent all her childhood and adult life in Kenya.

Although both her parents were britishmen and Dorothy was born in the UK, when she was 3 years old her family moved to Rift Valley town of Eldoret in Uasin Gishu County, in 1913, constructing the second building in that town. She spent all her chidhood in Kenya and have belonged to this country with all her heart.


During her childhood Dorothy studied in Kenya but then decided to continue her education in the UK.




Dorothy was a very active woman who tried to succeed in every sphere but architecture was her true passion. She became a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1946 and opened an architectural firm, Hughes and Polkinghorne, designing such structures as the Golden Beach Hotel,Murangi House, the Princess Elizabeth Hospital, the Rift Valley Sports Club, and St. Mary’s school.


  • Became the first East African female architect and created lots of remarkable buildings which are still considered to be true pearls of architecture in Nairobi.






(The Cathedral has a modernist style and non-figurative st...)


    • Murangi House


(Murangi Houses are the chain of the hotels which offer co...)


Because of her beliefs and religion as well as membership in New Kenya Party, she lost her seat of the official in 1961.


Dorothy believed in cooperation that's why she entered to the first multi-racial political party in Kenya which was founded to counter African nationalism and European conservatism and called for independence with a multiracial coalition government.


Dorothy was an active person who never lost her enthusiasm. She always worked and had pretty active political and social positions which let her to achieve many goals among which is the construction of numerous socially friendly buildings like hospitals and cathedrals, schools and other educational enterprises. She believed Kenya could be a better place and she did her best to improve the women's situation in Kenya and Africa in general. Her legacy is still alive, the firm she founded still exists, the buildings she constructed are still the ornament of the city and the memory about her will live for many decades as she has always tried to leave her trace in this world.


Dorothy was a person who seemed to never get tired. She was always doing some kind of work, whether political or architectural, she had a big loving family and was trying to make Kenya a country with opportunities and first of all a country which would be considered as a safe one for women. She fought for women's rights and did everything to achieve the aims of making Kenya a place where people are able to live happily.

Physical Characteristics: She was an attractive charismatic woman who was never afraid of being a leader.


She was married to the Kenyan Ford agent, John Hughes, who later founded Hughes Motors. Subsequently, the couple had 6 children


Tomorrow's Catholic Church -- Fr Anthony Scerri

  REMINISCENCES Rudolf Anthony Scerri, Carmelite       (The following is an excerpt from a larger document in which Fr Anthony Sce...